At Majux, we prioritize strategies that generate a volume of qualified leads at the lowest cost-per-acquisition possible. Over the course of our 10+ years working with firms of all sizes and structures, we have found that organic SEO and content consistency produces the best cost-per-acquisition for signed cases.
For more information about the state of attorney SEO in 2024, keep reading. If you’d like to schedule an introductory call, please send us a note.
Glossary of Jargon/Industry Terms Used in this Article
- 404 – An error where a url is not found, and thus does not load
- CPA – Cost-Per-Acquisition (the actual cost of signing a case)
- Featured Snippets – The separated bit of content/information that Google displays at the top or side of a search result page
- Image ALT Text – The descriptive text attached to each image on your website
- Intent – What Google thinks a user is actually searching for as opposed to what they typed into the search field
- Lead Gen – A model of company that sells raw leads to law firms
- Map Pack – The three search results that appear above Google’s organic search results and correspond to a GMB/Google Maps profile
- Metas – The title and description that you give a piece of content for Google’s sake
- MVA – Motor Vehicle Accident
- Paid Channels – Advertising channels where there is a cost to participate
- PPC – Pay-Per-Click (an advertising channel where you pay a network based on clicks, not impressions)
- Redirect Chain – A website error where there are a string of url redirects that often end in a dead url or with another url in the chain
- Research-Based Queries – Search terms that are often full questions or sentences about a process – example: “What is an actionable breach of contract event in New York”
- SERPs – the actual page on Google.com that lists search results
- UX – User experience, i.e., how good the experience is for visitors who are using your website
Is SEO a Good Investment for Los Angeles-Based Law Firms in 2024?
In terms of advertising dollars spent, Yes, search engine optimization is still a good investment for attorneys. Things are different now – as discussed in the next section – but the ROI remains lower than other advertising or marketing channels. Take motor vehicle cases, for instance – a click on Google Ads can often cost between $130-$500 depending on the geography, term, and whether you are optimizing for phone calls. It’s common for a signed MVA case to cost between $1,500-$4,000 in acquisition costs from paid channels such as Google Ads or Facebook’s Network. This is why many lead generation companies sell MVA leads for a price-per-lead within that price range, depending on the market.
When evaluating an organic SEO and content campaign vs. paid channels or lead gen, there is a longer lead time required, but you’re paying someone to build an asset that you own and builds on itself over time. After that initial investment, your monthly SEO fees don’t change, but the volume of leads trends upwards. Once the SEO and content gains traction, the actual cost-per-acquisition per signed case is much, much lower than acquisition costs from paid channels, typically anywhere from 50-90% less expensive.
Is SEO Different for Lawyers in 2024 vs. Previous Years?
SEO has changed dramatically in the recent past. Massive algorithm updates near the tail end of 2023 promoted discussion forums like Reddit, gave generative (AI-driven and interactive) search results more play, and even shuffled the number of featured snippets visible in the SERPs. Google continues to push Local Service Ads (LSAs) as the first results a user will see, and we usually see four traditional paid search ads above the organic results as well. We navigate these changes every day, and we’d be happy to share what we’ve learned with you.
Lastly, don’t forget about a phenomenon we refer to as “web inflation.” Every day, another law firm launches a website or starts an SEO campaign. In short, the volume of content and websites online grows every day, and it takes progressively longer to cut through that noise. The longer you wait, the more of an uphill climb it will be to attract cases through organic search.
What are Google’s Ranking Factors for Law Firm Websites in 2024?
Google’s algorithm (rather, algorithm
s), uses various signals to determine how a website will rank. MUM is an algorithm that deciphers semantic meanings of different wording combinations, freshness algorithms determine what topics should be updated often, RankBrain was the original AI search algorithm, and so forth. You can read more about those on Google’s developer blog, but for our purposes in this article, it’s more important to discuss what should actually be done on your website.
Content is a Ranking Factor
You need to have a content strategy that satisfies the search intent of Google’s users for queries related to your practice. You will need to choose the right topic, write it authoritatively, and ‘optimize’ it for Google.
Service Pages for Each Practice Area and Location
Firstly, you will need content for each practice area and location. For instance, “Denver Car Accident Lawyer,” or “Phoenix Attorney for Blind Trusts.” These pages will most likely need to be over 2,000 words long, cite data, contain information about the process, reference state-specific statutes, and/or include other material that will make the page authoritative to both readers and Google.
Blog Posts Targeting Research-Based Intent/Queries
Secondly, you will want to stock your website with blog posts. These should answer specific questions, like:
- What is the statute of limitations for a work injury lawsuit in WI?
- What’s the Penalty for a Second DUI in MN?
- Other other legal questions that your potential clients may be asking
These blogs should be specifically written for your state. Many firms make the mistake of not expressly stating the state that their content is relevant to. This can have the negative effect of attracting visitors from outside your service area and potentially wasting a lot of your time.
Chat GPT is Not Good Enough to Write Your Content (at Least Not Yet)
We’ve been asked many times if current AI platforms are good enough to contribute to a law firm SEO strategy. The answer is no. It can work nicely for certain business verticals, but the legal space is not one of them. We have tested this many different ways and can definitively say that any content that fails the testing for being AI generated (even if written by a human), will not rank as well as content written by a human with expertise on the subject and then put through an editorial process.
Google considers law firms to be what they call “Your Money or Your Life (YMYL)” sites. Health, finance, law, and government topics fall under this category. As such, law firm websites need to present content that is well-written, has a good user experience, cites and references authoritative sources when necessary, and generally demonstrates experience and expertise in the field. You can do this by prompting Chat GPT and editing the content heavily, but you will get better results by working with a writer who is an attorney. Wink wink, the editorial team at Majux are all writers who at least have their JD, many are admitted to practice.
Links to Your Website: Another Ranking Factor
Google will rank your website higher in the SERPs if your website receives links from other websites to your own. This has been well documented for many years, so Google has further revised the algorithm to heavily weigh links that:
- Come from authoritative and established websites (such as news websites)
- Come from topically-related websites and directories (American Bar Association, AVVO, abogado.com, etc.)
- Have context and have seemingly been placed at an editor’s discretion within the body of a page – not in a footer, sidebar, or something similar
You can still get value from relevant directories and other sources, but the links listed above are the best you can get. We are able to accomplish this via three primary means.
First, we build direct connections with journalists, publishers, bloggers, or other website editors. From time to time, we have the opportunity to pitch an article topic or a quote, and we can often link back to a client’s website in the process.
Secondly, we use journalist tools to connect with writers. Some journalists will publish a question or request for interviews on one of these tools. We read the question, write an in-depth pitch or response, get our client’s sign-off, and send it to the journalist. This can result in a link.
Thirdly, we sometimes publish what we refer to as “link honeypot content.” These are typically blog posts that highlight interesting data that may be used by others as a research tool. For instance, we wrote a blog post entitled, “State By State Guide To Moped Laws” for one our clients. The post gets over a thousand hits each month, and it has attracted multiple backlinks from blogs and other publishers. It will never generate leads, and that’s perfectly fine.
Technical SEO and On-Site Signals
Your website must be free of technical errors and send Google the right signals. Here are a few of them, although it would take 20,000 words to provide an exhaustive list.
Writing Metas and Image ALT Text
Each page or blog post needs to have a unique meta title tag that includes your target keywords in a readable way that will encourage web searchers to click on your result in the SERP. The same applies to meta descriptions, even though the actual text in your meta description is not a ranking factor.
Alt text, the descriptive text attached to each image on your website, is meant to help visually impaired web users ascertain the content of the image. Adding keywords to this description will give you a slight edge in the search results.
Internal Link Structure and URL Hierarchy
Links from one page of your website to another are called “internal” links. These are useful for a few reasons:
- They pass URL authority from one page of your website to another (albeit in increasingly diluted amounts)
- They help Google’s crawlers reach and discover deeper portions of your website
- They provide a good user experience
- They provide Google with contextual information about a page through the use of keyword-rich anchor text
You can use internal links to create a hierarchy of pages on your site, or to create silos of content. For instance, you may have a top-level page entitled, “Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Chicago.” You will then want to have a network of workers’ comp-related blog posts that all link to the top-level workers’ comp page using targeted anchor text.
Clean Up Technical Errors Like 404s and Redirect Chains
In a competitive vertical like law, technical issues could be preventing your site from ranking on Google. Use a tool like Screaming Frog to identify and correct 404 errors, export a list of canonicals to make sure you don’t have any errors, and crawl for redirect chains (when a URL redirects to another URL, which then redirects to another URL). Another common issue, at least on bilingual websites, is the incorrect use of hreflang tags for language identification.
You will also need to look for “low quality” pages on your website. Again using Screaming Frog, you can identify pages that have a low word count, then do one of the following:
- Beef them up into more authoritative pages
- Redirect them
- Add a no-index tag so Google does not add them to the search results
There are dozens and dozens of technical issues to look for on a website. Any number of them could be hurting your rankings.
Positive User Experience (UX): Core Web Vitals are a Ranking Factor
As recently as 2023, Google has stated that Core Web Vitals are used to determine if a page includes “helpful content” or not.
Your developer or attorney SEO agency will need to check on the following metrics: Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID – now called NIP), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS). Google measures these metrics to keep tabs on:
- How long it takes for the largest image or content blog to load in the user’s view
- How long it takes your site to respond when a visitor clicks on a button or engages with another element
- Whether or not the visible elements on your website shift significantly as your page loads
In short, keep your website user-friendly and lighting fast. That’s easier said than done, but if you do that, you should perform well in regards to Core Web Vitals metrics.
Local SEO For Attorneys: Map Pack Rankings
The ‘map pack’, which appears above the traditional organic results, is an amazing source of leads. We discuss map pack visibility in greater detail on a different page of our website, but here’s a quick overview.
The first step is to create a high quality Google Business Profile. Write a meaningful description, add as many images of your office, storefront, partners, and other elements of the firm as you can, add “products” for your different practice areas, and fill out the FAQ section.
Most importantly, get as many reviews as you possibly can. This is a ranking factor, and it may be the most important ranking factor. Make sure they are real and legitimate, but stay on top of previous clients until they leave you a review.
We also build a number of citations for our clients. These are instances of your business name, phone number, and address across the web. This “NAP” information needs to be consistent for Google to reward you with better rankings. We build citations on your social media profiles, in the footer of your website, on law firm directories, on your local chamber of commerce website, and so forth.
About Majux: How We Generate Cases for Our Clients
Deep Roots in the Legal Industry
Our strategies and services are rooted in deep industry expertise. Majux’s Founder spent a decade in legal marketing and operations for law firm prior to launching this agency. Our editorial staff is full of folks who have passed the bar exam and/or admitted attorneys. We understand the ethical considerations specific to legal advertising, as well as the specific pain points that small firms and solo practitioners face.
Timeless Content Strategies For Law Firms
Google will never release an algorithm update that dislikes high quality content that satisfies what its users are searching for. That’s why our clients are generally immune from the wild fluctuations of Google’s algorithm updates. We perform deep keyword research, analyze the search results of each new market we enter, and enact our proprietary approach to content strategy.
We also know intake – for almost every client that we start working with, we will get involved in (and even design) their new client intake process. We have hooked lead tracking up to every case management and CRM software there is. We bring more than 10 years of experience in how to convert more leads into high-quality cases.
We Carefully Measure and Report on Leads Generated and Cases Signed
We use call tracking, Google’s tools, and other measurement tools to measure the exact source, volume and quality of the leads that we are generating for you. Of course, we also send reports on metrics such as traffic and rankings, but we always tie the work back to leads and revenue generated. We can get as accurate as your practice allows in terms of the determination of true ROI of your SEO and content campaigns. Example – if your firm uses case management software or a CRM tracking system, we can hook lead sources up to your software and then track backwards to calculate the actual real-word value and CPA of each case.
Obviously, this is a cursory guide to all the strategies involved in generating clients from the web. To learn more or schedule an introductory call with our team, call (215) 309-1631.